Al Qaeda is a pretty effective intelligence organization, placing great emphasis on collecting and analyzing information. This is what they have done since they encountered American infantry and air power in Afghanistan. While al Qaeda disparaged American ground forces before September 11, 2001, they have since developed a more practical view of fighting U.S. troops. Al Qaeda quickly learned how to deal with smart bombs; and they did this by operating in small groups that keep moving. Al Qaeda who had fought the Russians also discovered that shooting officers first doesn't stop American troops. Russian units are very dependent on their officers for combat leadership, as Russia has not had decent NCOs for nearly a century. Al Qaeda now tend to regard all American combat troops as they did the Russian Spetsnaz commandos. But al Qaeda also noted the differences between regular army infantry and commandos. The regulars carry too much equipment and move more slowly. The Special Forces, SEALs and Delta Force travel light, and often look like Afghans. But the commandos are much better with their weapons and use superior small unit tactics. Al Qaeda will avoid commandos, and not play with regulars for too long. That's because al Qaeda has also learned to fear the AC-130 "Spitting Witches" (as they call the gunships), which tend to show up if the American infantry are having a hard time of it. Al Qaeda have also learned to clear out of the area if they encounter enemy snipers. The Canadian snipers, equipped with 12.7mm McMillan sniper rifles, gave them a real hard time. The overall lesson al Qaeda has learned is that you better stick with ambushes and hit and run attacks if you want to survive against American or other professional Western troops. The night vision equipment and control of the air make the Americans deadly if you don't have a well thought out escape plan. With the night vision stuff, al Qaeda has learned that if you lie down and cover yourself with a blanket you will usually be invisible, unless the enemy is very close. In that case, it's time for a suicide attack. The Taliban, who are not as keen on suicide attacks, have largely been staying at home or planting bombs and anti-US leaflets.